Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Dean Speaking to 2008 Election

The Dartmouth Online features Dean's comments on how the future of the Democratic party is tied to expanding the Democratic base - including Evangelical Christians.

I personally feel there is lots of room to bring religious people more firmly into the Democratic coalition, I agree that the fundamental values of the Democratic party are strongly informed by the best of Christian values, but I have serious doubts that we can split away those who feel their religious convictions about personal sexual morals and the sanctity of life are their primary issues.

More likely is that Evanglicals who vote on God, gays, guns, and gamettes (or as my wife derisively puts it, faith, fagots, firearms, and foetuses) will retreat again from political life as they realize that even at this highwater mark of the theocratic GOP, they aren't going to get much of what they want most.

Democrats in seeking the votes of Christians, and seeking to energize a religious electorate must focus not on personal, and I would argue private, moral issues, but on issues of public morality which inform how we actually govern; corruption, conflict of interest, use of public power for private advantage, a moral restraint on the conduct and initiation of warfare, the immorality of development of new nuclear weapons technology, this nation's highly iniquitous distribution of wealth, the basic services necessary for a human to live with a minimum measure of dignity thoughout a lifetime, the sanctity of all life AFTER birth, the issues of injustice surrounding our penal system and the ruinous war on drugs, and taking the initiative in advancing the moral conversation between well-intentioned Christians and Muslims about radical fundamentalism and intolerance on BOTH sides and how to avoid the tragic escalation of this "clash of civilizations" which some want the "war on terror" to become. These are the sort of moral values we need to open a conversation about, and the sort of conversation in which we will be more persausive.

At the same time, we need to draw the sting of the the GOP's use of wedge issues by working to withdraw many of theses issues of fundamentally private sexual and reproductive questions from the public sector. I have never has a problem with religion and morality having a place at the table in the Democratic party, I only despise the agenda, and most especially the politicians, which have exploited religious belief over the last 20 years. Democrats must demostrate that we can hold the moral high-ground without lording it over others, or crowding out the values of liberalism and secular government which form our civic religion.

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